Anyone who emailed me between November ’12 and January ’13 got this auto-reply:
Much as I love to connect, I’m in deep creation and pre-launch mode…aka “email is largely dead to me” mode through the end of Jan 2013 as I work to breath life into new adventures for the year ahead.
So, it’ll likely take a while before I can respond. I appreciate your patience. If this is genuinely an urgent matter, please call…
I turned that email off, but I’m thinking about turning it back on for the duration of 2013. I’m also considering expanding that ethic beyond email and into the way I commit my time, money and energy for the next 11 months.
Over the last few years, I’ve spent a vast amounts of time in connection-mode, being fairly ubquitous across social media and attending and speaking at a lot of conferences and events.
My driving purpose was not knowledge, but rather people. I wanted to find and build relationships with people I just love to be around, I could help, and who could help me. All the better if all three categories folded into one, which they often have.
Connection is valid reason to invest energy and it’s been hugely valuable both in my ability to build my businesses, brand and impact and be in a position to help a lot of people do what they’re here to do. Plus, the friendships and colleagues I’ve come to know have added immeasurably to my life, regardless of professional potential.
Problem is, there’s an opportunity cost to hyper-connection mode; education and creation stall.
As last year unfolded, I started to notice something. I was losing my beginner’s mind. I had become less of a student and creator and more of a connector.
For some people, that’s fine. Not me. I’m at my happiest when I’m learning and creating. And even though, from the outside-in, there seemed to be a large volume of creation going on over the last year, truth is, I was holding on for dear life a good part of the time. Living and creating reactively with the time I had left over after connecting. That didn’t work for me.
So as I entered 2013, I decided to shift gears. To make this the year of immersive learning and creation and dial back on connection.
I bowed out of both attending and speaking at a number of events that had been regulars, but were largely about connection (which, again, I love), but didn’t also hold substantial opportunity for intensive learning. I still have a few connection-driven events on the calendar, but far less than I’ve had the prior few years.
I’ve rebuilt my calendar to compress weekly connection time. Instead of scattering it across the week, Monday is my connection day, with either Wednesday or Thursday afternoon designated as my connection overflow window. I’ve needed time to honor prior commitments, but by the end of February, this will be my nearly-inviolable schedule.
On the social side, I’ve begun “batching,” too. With rare exception, anything that happens outside my designated connection days will happen in an intimate group. So, if people are coming into town or friends want to gather, we’ll designate three or four nights or weekend mornings a month to gather where we can all play and rotate and smile and laugh and hug and eat and drink and relax. Outside these windows, it ‘s all about education, creation, vitality and family.
Implementing these shifts has immediately freed up time to go deeper on my education than I’ve gone in years.
I committed to a private workshop with Stanford Professor B.J. Fogg, a leading researcher in “captology” or the marraige of technology and psychology to trigger and sustain behavior change and facilitate mass adoption (okay, you figured me out, planning to take over the world with digital love). I’ve become part of a group of 140 people who have inside access to the strategies and test data from a digital publisher who’s known to be on the cutting-edge of information marketing.
I committed to attend a 3-day conference on the intersection of Eastern philosophy, mindfulness and Buddhism with entrepreneurship, business growth and global impact. I’m not speaking which, to be honest, feels a little weird to me. I’m not used to being at events purely to absorb. But I’m also excited about the shift. And there will be more investment of time, money and energy in carving out more opportunities that elevate education and creation over connection.
I look at it as a natural cycle. You need to be out in the world to build the relationships that make life rich, allow you to serve and also help get the word out when you’ve done something worth sharing.
But if you’re always in connection mode, you cut so deeply into your ability to learn and create that you’re not able to birth ideas, products, services, experiences and movements that matter enough for people to want to share them.
You lose the ability to create on a level that allows you say “look, I did this,” have jaws drop and send people running to share what you’ve created in an expanding ripple of self-motivated evangelism.
One last thing – isn’t connection important for knowledge and creation?
Yes and no. At least for me. I benefit immensely from the exchange of ideas, insights and critique that allow me to learn more and create better. But, I also tend to get a lot more out of those exchanges AFTER I’ve already spent a lot of time in my own head, in the classroom, in workshops, in nature, at peace, in my own largely solitary creation process.
That may not be how your process works, but that’s how it works for me.
So, what about you? What’s been your primary operating mode?
Connection, creation or education? Is it working for you?
And if not, what are you going to do about it?
Share your thoughts below…
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